Albright Comments on Mideast Turmoil
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
October 12, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
Q: Madame Secretary, please, on the ramming of the Navy ship; is there
any knowledge, any information of who may have done it?
Has anybody claimed responsibility? And in a larger sense, is the U.S.
under some sort of calculated attack because of its support for
Israel? Is the U.S. at large now being targeted, U.S. citizens and
such, because of the stand it has taken in the Middle East conflict?
SEC. ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, let me say that we are in the
process of investigating the facts on what happened to the Cole. I had
a conversation about an hour ago with the president of Yemen, and they
are being very cooperative in the investigative process. The president
of Yemen told me that he had been to the hospital to visit the
casualties, and obviously he offered his condolences
And we will continue to investigate this, and as far as I know, Barry,
nobody has claimed anything. And there is -- as I said, if it appears
to be an act of terrorism, we will pursue it and hold those
accountable. But we have not heard anything more beyond the
investigative aspect of this, and we are going to be sending some
teams in and doing everything we can.
On the second part of the question, I think that there clearly, we
have been concerned for some time about what is happening and threats
of terrorism. We've talked about that for a long time. It's one of the
priority issues of this administration, is to deal with that problem.
We have taken a variety of steps to ensure that our diplomats are
secure, and the ambassadors on the ground are the ones that are going
to be making that decision. I think -- as to how to deal with their
own diplomats and the Americans that are in each respective country.
I think we're in a very sad and difficult period. We have all spent a
great deal of time on the peace process and have believed that it's an
important endeavor, and we will continue to do everything we can. The
president and I are deeply involved and will continue pursue the peace
But what has to happen is we have to get the violence to stop. There
has to be a cease-fire and there has to be a road back to the
Q: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go to Barbara.
Q: Madame Secretary, I was reading the description of Yemen in our
latest terrorist report, and I'm wondering why this country was ever
taken off the terrorist list when there are groups like the Islamic
Jihad; Hamas has an office there; Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- all of
these apparently still have a presence there. Osama bin Laden has a
presence there. Why was this country removed or not put back on the
list of terrorist-sponsoring states when a country like North Korea,
which has no terrorists, as far as I know, is still on the list?
SEC. ALBRIGHT: Well, as you know, we're very careful in determining
how that list is put together. And there are a variety of
considerations in it, and we obviously felt that there was a reason
But I think that we first have to be very careful here to make an
assessment of the facts. And I think it's very important that we know
what happened and where it was caused. And we obviously will keep
looking at the situation.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's go to Andrea.
Q: Madame Secretary, I'd like to pick up on Barry's question. Could
you please share with us whether or not you have a heightened concern,
greater concern, after this latest attack in Yemen, not just about
anti-Israeli sentiment within the Arab world, but anti-American
sentiment, and whether or not you think it's appropriate to renew that
embassy closing that you had initiated last week.
SEC. ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I really caution you all not to
jump to conclusions here. We have, ourselves, been talking about it
all morning, and the investigation is going on. And I just think it's
important -- you know, it's a great tragedy that four Americans died
and that 30 are injured -- I think there are two Yemeni nationals
among those -- and it is a great tragedy. And we are obviously doing
everything that we can. And as I said, if it does appear -- if it is a
terrorist attack, we obviously will take appropriate steps. But I just
urge a little bit of caution.
On the second point, I think, you know, the answer is yes, obviously,
there are demonstrations going on in a variety of places. We are
watching everything very carefully.
And the -- we are, I believe, taking the responsible action as far as
our embassies are concerned. Everybody -- we're all in contact, and
people are very watchful.
But let me just say this:
The United States is not going to stop doing what we have to do. We
have responsibilities. We have national interests. We all -- we are
operating in a world that is filled with a variety of threats, but
that doesn't mean that we can crawl into an ostrich-like mode. We are
eagles, and I think that it is very important that the United States
stay involved, that we understand the threats. And we will continue to
do what we have to do.